So many thoughts have tried to circle my head the last week and a half, but I just haven’t had the brain power to process them all. People keeping asking how we’re doing, what’s next, have I had time to relax. I still honestly don’t know.

We all deal with grief in very different ways. I think we deal with grief in different situations in different ways. I am devastated to have lost my grandmother. I think the biggest thing for me, is that she was the last tangible active memory of my mom left in my life. As long as I had Gran here, I had a piece of my mom. I was still doing something for my mom. And, maybe if I was doing something for my mom, my mom was still kinda here too. Now, I sit and stare at the empty blue chair and realize it’s all over. Then, there’s the guilt that I feel glad that it is over. Care giving is hard in a normal situation. Care giving for a dementia patient is even harder. Care giving for a dementia patient and working full time and taking care of small children is enough to do you in. So, I’m grieving and celebrating all at the same time; and it is just weird.

Throw on top of it all that all of this went down in April and May- the very busiest month(s) for us. Part of me was glad that Gran passed away and her funeral was the week of the Fourth Grade walk. The Fourth Grade walk is like the Mecca event for students at Moore Elementary. This was the 25th Anniversary for the kids to make the 28 mile 2 day hike of the Natchez Trace. It’s a big stinking deal. Kids talk about this from their 2nd day of kindergarten. It is the longest running, longest distance walk by elementary kids in the nation. And, of course I was the parent coordinator for the event and hosted a massive dinner for over 250 people. Having the Fourth Grade walk really allowed me to not focus on losing Gran for 4 days. She died on Tuesday, we had walk events Wednesday, Thursday, Friday; and then drove to KY for the funeral on Saturday. It all just kinda happened and I didn’t have to process. Even on Saturday I didn’t really process. We went through the motions of the funeral, then drove straight back home for events the kids had.

Sunday was Mother’s Day. I’ve pretty much laid in bed on Mother’s Day the last 3 years, and this year was no different. Being a Motherless Mom on Mother’s Day is hard. I get to celebrate being a Mom with my amazing kids every day. Mother’s Day was a day for me to celebrate all my mom had done for me. And, it just makes me sad to not have that. Burying my Grandmother on Mother’s Day weekend didn’t make that any better. So, from grief, exhaustion, or whatever it was, I laid in bed pretty much all day Sunday. I wish I could say I got the best rest ever. But, that isn’t so much the case.

And, then Monday hit. And, I realized how incredibly far behind I was at work and just dove in head first getting the troops gathered and getting back on track. All week long I have been running crazy focusing on work and what had to be caught up. I hate half-assing anything, and that’s pretty much how things have been rolling lately. But, again, having something else to focus on hasn’t given me much space to acknowledge or process reality. And, it’s starting to catch up to me.

As much as I would like to pretend this is all a bad dream and nothing over the last three years has really happened; it did happen. It is my real life, and I really have to deal with it. So, I don’t know how I feel about it all just yet. I’m sad, I’m tired, I’m confused, I feel guilty. And, I have no freaking clue what I am going to do about all that just yet. Today is a sit and soak it in kind of day. I need to rescue my house from 5 weeks of chaos. I have some loose ends to tie up. I’m just going to chill a minute and let myself feel it all out. Not my specialty. But, desperately needed for my soul.

Jesus Finally Called

Mrs. Jo Ann Roberts, age 83, of Franklin, TN, formerly of Mayfield, passed away on Tuesday, May 09, 2017 at Alive Hospice in Nashville, TN.

She was a member of High Point Baptist Church and a homemaker.

Mrs. Roberts is survived by one granddaughter, Misty (Jeff) Woodford of Franklin, TN; two great grandchildren, Sam and Lexi Kate Woodford; one son-in-law, William Baker of Mayfield, KY; three brothers, Jack Hawkins, Billy (Beula) Hawkins and Donald Wayne (Sandra) Hawkins all of Mayfield, KY; two sisters, Patsy Nall and Peggy (Melvin) Alexander both of Mayfield, KY; two brother-in laws, Gail (Anita Sue) Roberts and Larry (Linda) Roberts; one step-granddaughter, Meghan Baker of California; one step-great granddaughter, Julianne Bea of Murphreesboro TN, and several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Glen A. Roberts; one daughter, Pam Baker; six sisters, Madele Hicks, Reva Sims, Pauline Jackson, Kink Brown, Helen Drake and Jette Mae Goatley; and her parents, Roscoe and Roxie Rodgers Hawkins.

Funeral services for Mrs. Jo Ann Roberts will be 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at Byrn Funeral Home in Mayfield, KY. Nic Allen will officiate. Interment will follow at Highland Park Cemetery.

Pallbearers will be Brad Hawkins, Chad Hawkins, Terry Jackson, Stevie Jackson, Cody Drake, Johnny Hicks and Melvin Alexander.

Visitation will be 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at the funeral home.

How is she hanging on?

The question of the hour for the doctors, nurses and our family is, how in the world is she still hanging on? She’s 19 days past a blood clot in her superior mesenteric artery, she’s 13 days post stroke- neither receiving medical treatment; and she hasn’t had food or water in 13 days. She’s been totally nonresponsive for 8 days. It’s a medical mystery and an interesting journey in watching the human life cycle.

But, here’s what I know about my grandmother’s health journey, and it shines a great big spotlight into how in the world she’s survived this long. Grandmother was most likely born with infant rheumatism and a hole in her heart. She was sick most of her childhood, not expected to live beyond her teen years. As a teenager, she developed severe migraines that led to her getting shots in her skull. (This is where I am glad that I was a migraine patient in the late 90s-2000’s and not the 1940’s.) Not only did she live beyond her teen years, she was a hard working productive member of society. She delivered a child. In her later years, she stripped tobacco for a living in hot and terrible working conditions.

In 1997 the hole in her heart opened up, leading to emergency heart surgery. Several hours into surgery, the doctor came into the waiting room to let us know he was closing up, but didn’t expect her to come off the operating table alive. It was a hard couple days, but she survived. Four days later, a stitch pulled loose from her valve replacement, tearing the valve, and they had to go back in and do the surgery over. Again, the doctor said she was absolutely too weak to survive this surgery. We left the hospital a couple weeks later. In April 1999 the “cow tissue” valve failed and she had a “pig tissue” valve inserted. The surgery went well, no complications. At the time the surgeon told us that this would give her 7-10 years life at most.

In 2003 Grandmother had a heart attack, and needed a pacemaker installed. Again, this bought her a couple years at most. In 2010 her pacemaker was replaced with a pacemaker/ defibulator combination device. I can’t even tell you how many times the defibulator has activated after Grandmother suffered a heart attack. At least 10 times in the 2 years she has lived with me. It’s the craziest thing in the world.

In February 2014, the day after her 80th birthday, Grandmother watched her only daughter die. If anything would destroy a heart, I’d pretty much expect that to do it. I honest to goodness expected to bury my mother and my grandmother that week. And, yet, she is a survivor. She continued to live on her own for another year before moving in with us.

In the time that Grandmother has lived with us, we’ve been told she would not leave St. Thomas Hospital alive 4 times. Four times I have mentally and emotionally prepared for my grandmother to die. Yet, I sit beside her and type, and she is totally alive.

We have racked our brains as to what in the world she could be waiting on. Every family member has been here to tell her goodbye. We’ve all told her it is okay to go be with Jesus. I’ve asked her to go give my mom a hug for me and tell her that I love her. I even brought the dog up here to be with her last night. For the love of Pete, I went and made funeral arrangements for someone that wasn’t dead so I could tell her it was taken care of and not to worry about me.

But, she’s not suffering. She is comfortable, and her time on this earth is not done. So, for whatever she’s clinging to, I accept that she has something else to live for. Her time and journey on this earth is not done. By my math, she’s been defying death for 83 years, and 20 of those very actively defying the odds. She’s a fighter, she’s a tough old bird. And, she reminds me daily that there’s no struggle on this earth I can’t overcome. For goodness sake, if she can beat the hell out of death, I can conquer a few little work problems or parenting issues.

A Huge Thank You Note

I know hand written notes are a thing of the past. But, it is something I really love to do. There’s just something special about writing an encouraging note to someone, or expressing your gratitude for a gift or kind deed. My kids have had personalized stationary since before they were born. I should own stock in a paper company. My kids are required to write thank you notes before they are allowed to play with their birthday presents. I get it, me forcing them to do it takes a little of the sentiment out of it. But, I want to establish the good habit in them while they’re young. LK has taken ownership of this, and now shares my love of writing encouraging notes, and thank you notes to those who’ve helped her or gifted her with something.

Moral of the story, if you do something for me, I want to write you a thank you note. Not out of obligation, but because it truly is something I feel compelled to do out of joy. The last three weeks of our life have presented a huge problem for me in this area. I simply can’t keep up with who I need to write a thank you note to. The list would be in the dozens. Some things, I don’t even know who did them or who brought them. If I did know who everything was from, I really don’t have any minutes left in my day to write dozens of thank you notes; and my brain is so exhausted I don’t know that I could write a coherent sentence to properly express my gratitude. I’m desperately trying to release myself from that responsibility.

So, here is my one huge thank you note for all of you who have so richly blessed us over the last few weeks, and months for that matter. First and foremost, thank you for the prayers and support. We mentally and physically could not sustain ourselves in this situation for this long if it weren’t for God’s mercies new every morning and the joy of the Lord retaining our strength. Honestly, I haven’t had the time or energy that it takes to pour out my heart in prayer like I would want to do. So, thank you for interceding on our behalf.

Thank you for those who have worked wonders for my kids. Just showing up to watch them on a moments notice, taking them to school, picking them up from school, covering dance carpool, fixing their school lunches, giving them money for field trips, and book fair when I forgot. All the mom things that I totally should have been on top of arranging, thank you for not expecting me to have it together and just doing it for me. And, for them. Their tanks are running a little empty from lack of mom’s time and attention. But, your hugs, love, and support have filled them up. It’s been a true blessing for them to see the beauty of a community surrounding them and loving them well.

For food, oh so much food. The great thing about being in the South is when we don’t know what else to do, we show up with fried chicken. I have 2 refrigerators and 2 pantries busting at the seems with food. Seriously, every day people are bringing random groceries and/or prepared meals. I’ve been to the grocery and Costco once in the last three weeks. That wasn’t because I really needed any food, I just needed to do something normal in my life. You have know idea how blissful it was to pace the aisles of Costco last weekend. Normally, I would scream in terror of the idea of Costco on a Sunday, but it was so nice to just be out. I still haven’t prepared a meal for us in 3 weeks. Granted, Jeff has warmed up a few casseroles, but nothing major. And, friends you must think I need lots and lots of wine. Because, we’ve received cases worth. It’s really comical to think about my sweet preacher’s wife mother in law sitting at my house as neighbors dropped off 8 bottles of wine in one day. And, it was still sitting on my kitchen table when one of our pastors stopped by with ice cream. Honest to goodness, I haven’t had a drop of it. I’m afraid to come in and pour a glass only to be good and relaxed, and get a call to come back to Hospice. But, trust me, when this all passes, I’m sure I’ll sample some. Thank you for feeding us so faithfully for 3 solid weeks. I’m sure y’all are as tired of all this as we are.

Laundry, can we just talk about people walking in my house uninvited and doing my laundry. Well, most everyone in town has the electronic deadbolt code to our back door, and our garage code, so I guess we’ve extended an open invitation to our home. But, I would have never expected people to let themselves in to wash and fold my dirty drawers. Seriously, I think Jeff is a little traumatized. But, we are beyond blessed and grateful. Again, when you don’t know what else to do, you find the little things that we just don’t have time to deal with. And, the rest of the world is most grateful that we aren’t walking around with dirty underwear on. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to the at least 3 of you that I know have come in and taken care of our laundry the past 3 weeks.

My work, or should I say your work. Thank you to my fellow realtors for being patient with me as my paperwork isn’t as timely and tidy as normal. Thank you for my clients for understanding I’ve got alot going on, and even in this hot market they aren’t upset that I can’t go show them a house right this very second. I would be worried about losing out, but they’ve just said, if it’s meant to be, it will be. Thank you for the realtors and support professionals that have done my job for me. Showed my clients houses, filled out forms, done research, unlocked doors for inspections, taken pictures, and the whole list of things we do behind the scenes for me. May is looking to be my biggest month ever in terms of dollars closed. And, I’ve worked less in April/May than I ever have in my life. Yet, because of your support, it’s all come together just fine. And, not one of you have asked what my plan for reimbursing you is. Actually, most of you have refused payment when I’ve tried to compensate you. In an industry that is often cut throat and every man for themselves, I am honored to work with and be friends with the most compassionate realtors and clients in the industry. I only hope I can repay the favor someday.

Just caring. In the age of social media and over scheduled lives, I think we can get pretty lonely sometimes. Just because we have disconnected from our social groups and don’t have time to invest in true relationship. But, my oh my, how you all have invested in us. Constant reminders of your care and concern for us are truly keeping us going. LK often asks “Who is your best friend? Who should be my best friend? How do you pick a best friend?” Well, I am here to tell you we have ALL the BEST friends God put on this earth. Love unconditional, selfless service, and genuine compassion. Truly, trying to go over the top and outside your natural ability to make sure we don’t want or need anything. It’s been a true blessing beyond what I can describe.

I am sure there are dozens of other things that people have done for us that I forgot to mention. I’ll beg your forgiveness and promise you I am no less grateful for the things you have done. I’m sure it will come to me in the moment I press publish. So, please accept this very non-personal and specific blog post as my huge thank you note to all of you. The role you have played in our journey is significant. And, I hope the blessings you’ve reaped from serving us so well are as great as what we’ve received. Truly, from the bottom of our hearts we are grateful beyond what words could express.